The Flying Oval Office
The first presidential jet plane, a specially built Boeing 707-120, is known as SAM (Special Air Missions) 970. This aircraft, as well as any other Air Force aircraft, carried the call sign “Air Force One” when the president was aboard. Delivered in 1959 to replace Eisenhower’s Super-Constellation, the high-speed jet transport is a flying Oval Office with a modified interior and sophisticated communication equipment.
Jet technology gave a president the opportunity to meet face-to-face with world leaders easily. SAM 970 has carried presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon as well as VIPs such as Nikita Khrushchev and Henry Kissinger.
By 1962, SAM 970 was replaced by a newer Boeing VC-137C. But SAM 970 remained in the presidential fleet ferrying VIPs and the Vice-President until June of 1996.
This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (Museum of Flight)